MoD set to file affidavit against Maharashtra claim on Adarsh land

The Union Defence Ministry is set to submit a point-by-point rebuttal to the report of a Maharashta government-appointed commission that said that Adarsh land belonged to the state

Written by Sukanya Shetty | Mumbai | Published: July 17, 2012 12:48:50 am

The Union Defence Ministry is set to submit a point-by-point rebuttal to the report of a Maharashta government-appointed commission that said that Adarsh land belonged to the state.

In an affidavit to be filed in the Bombay High Court this week,the ministry will draw attention to 16 “serious discrepancies and contradictions” in the Adarsh commission’s report. A copy of the ministry’s internal report is available with The Indian Express.

Last week,the Defence Ministry had sought permission to intervene in several PILs filed before the high court on the Adarsh issue.

Its affidavit notes that the land in question,Block VI in upscale Colaba of South Bombay,existed much before the 1940s and was not reclaimed. Maharashtra’s stand before the commission has been that the land was reclaimed sometime in 1976,though it did not have any documents to back this.

The ministry,on the other hand,cites a 1958 report of the S G Barve Committee that apparently identifies the strip of land on which Adarsh stands today. The report,commissioned by the then government of Bombay,focused on traffic congestion,deficiency of open spaces,shortage of housing and over-concentration of industry in the city.

Dhiren Shah,who is appearing on behalf of the Defence Ministry,confirmed that their suit will reflect the contradictions in the Adarsh commission’s report.

The ministry’s affidavit is also like to cite an important witness,Lt Col Vikram Singh Bhadaria,Garrison Engineer (West),Colaba,who submitted an area map of a station health office,one of the oldest buildings in the area built in 1940-41,showing a triangular patch of land. This patch is identified as Block VI.

Incidentally,while the commission accepted Bhadaria’s submissions,the final report did not take note of it.

State-appointed Commission

There is no entry of Adarsh land in a 1935 Central govt notification which lists as many as 12 properties pertaining to Mumbai.

Though IT accepts the state’s claim that the land came into existence after 1976,it observes that had the state produced relevant files,its claims would have been that the land was submerged till 1970-73.

Commission accepts the state’s claim that MoD wanted to exchange Adarsh land with 41 acres of land in Santa Cruz.

Commission discards Survey of India map which shows a strip of land existed in 1957.

Accepts then collector Pradeep Vyas and other officials’ testimony,but does not question the inability to produce the reclamation record.

Defence ministry rebuttal

The said notification includes only those properties to be retained by the Centre for use at a later date. MoD cites 10 other properties which the notification doesn’t list.

No adverse inference despite non-production of reclamation records by the state. Two reports – of the 1958 Barve Committee and 1975 Kale Committee – wrongly interpreted. Both do not mention reclamation date.

Ridiculous as the Centre could not have wanted to exchange 41 acres in Santa Cruz with less than one acre of Adarsh land.

This was discarded from the Commission report without attributing any reasons.

Pradeep Vyas or officials have not produced any record of reclamation in Block VI from 1930 to 1973,when BEST reclaimed the plot. Letters written by DEO Saurav Ray to the collector ignored.

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